On September 9, 2002, astronaut Buzz Aldrin—the second human to set foot on the moon—is walking outside a Beverly Hills hotel when a conspiracy theorist starts harassing him and accusing Aldrin of lying about the Apollo 11 moon landing. Incensed, Aldrin punches his heckler in the face.
“You’re the one who said you walked on the moon when you didn’t,” Bart Sibrel told Aldrin as he walked by his filming crew outside the Luxe Hotel. “Calling a kettle black …”
“Will you get away from me?” an irate Aldrin warned the man in the incident caught on video.
Sibrel responded, “You’re a coward and a liar and a … ”
Aldrin, then 72, socked Sibrel in the jaw, right when he finished the sentence with “thief.”
During the widely reported incident, Sibrel—who has badgered Apollo astronauts more than once—even shoved a Bible in Aldrin’s face and asked him to swear on it that the moon landing was real and that Aldrin actually walked on the lunar landscape. Aldrin was lured to the hotel on the pretext of an interview for a children’s television show, and then Sibrel accosted him.
Sibrel tried to press assault charges against Aldrin, but the court threw out the case and called Sibrel the instigator.
In 2019, widespread news coverage about the 50th anniversary of the July 20, 1969 moon landing brought back memories of the wacky 2002 incident and talk about Sibrel. Aldrin, when asked about Sibrel and like-minded conspiracy theorists, told Fox News: “I don’t pay any attention to them, really. They’re out for themselves to make a name.”
Meanwhile, Sibrel, a Tennessee man who created three independent, low-budget films attempting to prove his beliefs, still insisted the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing was fake, on the 50th anniversary of the monumental event.
The 1969 moon landing has been the subject of conspiracy theories for a half century, with devotees claiming that NASA faked the event for a sinister agenda of deception. Roger Launius, NASA’s chief historian, told The Washington Post that about 5 to 6 percent of Americans subscribe to the moon-hoax theory.